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In November 2005, the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut became the first American University to offer a B.A. in Martial Arts

Martial Arts have actually been taught at universities overseas for years,
mostly due to the fact that martial arts are looked at as a way of life
by most Asian countries and are looked upon with a great deal of respect.  Almost all of the professors in charge of the Bridgeport program studied at these universities and are now bringing their extensive knowledge into American college programs.

There’s a lot more to the Bridgeport program than just learning a martial art (only three of which are currently taught, Tae Kwon Do, Taiji and Judo).  In fact, actually learning a martial art is an optional part of the program for those of you who never got along with gym class.

According to the University of Bridgeport website, the program explores 4 aspects of the martial arts:

  1. Historical background and philosophical roots of the martial arts
  2. Languages and cultures of the societies in which the martial arts originated and developed
  3. In-depth study of at least one of the martial arts (in 05-06 Tae kwon Do and Taiji are offered, with other disciplines to be added in the future)
  4. Psychosocial dimensions of the martial arts and their impact upon personality and society

As we looked into it a bit more, it appears to be a fairly rigorous program.  There language requirement consists of 12 credit hours of either Chinese, Japanese or Korean, none of which are “easy” languages. (and you thought Spanish was tough!)  There’s also an International Political Economy and Diplomacy section designed to help the students gain a better understanding of the differences between Eastern and Western cultures. 

These are in addition to the typical math, science and fine arts classes that all University students are required to take.  Check out a recommended 4-year schedule for the Bridgeport Martial Arts program.

Those who do choose to practice a martial art get the opportunity to compete at national tournaments during their study.  In October of ’05, Bridgeport students competed in the US Open Master Taekwondo Championship and took 2 gold, 1 silver and 4 bronze medals.  Not too shabby!

While some would think that this program is only setting one up to open a martial arts school, think again.  Anyone coming out of college with an in-depth understanding of Eastern vs. Western culture and a grasp on a language as difficult as Chinese, Japanese or Korean won’t have too difficult a time finding a job.  Doing one of the optional co-curricular activities is highly recommended, as would spending a semester studying in an Eastern country to get a better grasp on a language.

In the business world, knowing another culture and/or language is getting to be a more valuable asset by the day.  Why not throw a little martial arts training in with an education as valuable as this one?